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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Banshee's Best: 2013 NBA Playoffs

If you read my bio, the NBA doesn't even get a mention on the list of sports topics I'm passionate about.  But, the 2013 NBA playoffs are worth the attention of any sports fan.  What is it that makes sports great?  Up and comers vs. veterans.  Dazzling skill vs. dogged determination.  Pedigree vs. desire.  Some of those elements are always present in the early rounds of any playoffs.  But those things are all still present as the NBA advances to the Conference Finals.  Early on in the playoffs, I wrote a post about why each of the remaining playoffs teams were worthy of casual bandwagon allegiance.  Well, now the NBA is down to four teams.  And the lines remain just as compelling.

(Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today)
In the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers will take on the Miami Heat.  It would be easy to say this is a contrast of styles.  The blue collar nature of the Pacers vs. the South Beach glamour of the Heat.  It's true that the Pacers have a workman-like persona.  And they deserve that persona.  In the second round, the Pacers eliminated the high-flying Knicks by stifling their offense and getting effective post play from their big men.  And for those of us who do not live in a gigantic coastal city, it was nice to see a town from the heartland oust a team from the Big Apple.  But the thing is, the Heat actually deserve a blue collar persona, too.  Yeah, I remember The Decision and the Not-1-Not-2-Not-27 celebration in the arena that followed.  But, since that time, the Miami Heat have actually been a team built on defense and unselfish offense.  The Eastern Conference Finals will finally get started on Wednesday night.

In the Western Conference Finals, the Memphis Grizzlies are facing the San Antonio Spurs.  That series got underway this weekend.  And, honestly, it was the Spurs' performance in Game 1 that prompted me to write this column.  I didn't portray the Spurs in a flattering way in my last post about the NBA.  But, this series can be summed up in a phrase my Dad often repeats: "Puppy for the path. Old dog for the woods."  If you don't know what that means, then you should have watched Game 1 on Sunday.  The Memphis Grizzlies are physically talented and play very hard.  The Spurs are aged, but they are wiley and experienced.  The Spurs won Game 1 in convincing fashion with fantastic movement of the ball and players.  Game 2 was a much closer affair, but once again, the precision of the Spurs offense was a beautiful thing to watch and was enough to propel the Spurs to a 2-0 lead.  Game 3 will take place in Memphis on Saturday.

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